"Analogue" (Album, 2005)
We've eagerly awaited the release of a-ha's eighth studio album, Analogue, and in November 2005 it hit our shelves here in the UK. Even though this is the band's eighth album, it is their first release with Universal/Polydor (they were originally signed with Warner/WEA). Celice is great a great opener and certainly moves the body, with its great mixture of strong drum beat and fast guitars, and a bit of tambourine thrown in for good measure. Morten Harket excels in the vocal department, starting quite deep and meaningful at the beginning and then hitting the high notes during the chorus. Cosy Prison has a very smooth, slow start with just piano, acoustic guitar and violins and it then transforms into a power ballad. Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills & Nash) is guest vocalist on this track, and he sings well with Morten, who shows off his great vocal range again. Cosy Prison is sheer perfection.
Turn the volume up and blast this from the speakers. There is just one word that describes Analogue - fantastic! From the moment this starts with the electric guitar in the first few bars of the song, you know this is going to seriously rock. We really hoped this would do well as a single in the UK charts, as - in our opinion - it has hit written all over it. The single was subsequently released in the UK on the 30th January 2006 and reached number 10 in the charts.
Halfway Through The Tour is a definite skip on the album. The song is a jumble of instruments that don't seem to gel with the vocals, and the three minute instrumental section (even though it is a nice piece of music) just doesn't fit in with the track at all (in fact it sounds as though it is another song just about to begin), and makes the whole unnecessarily long. On the start of Keeper Of The Flame Morten is accompanied by just a piano. The song opens up though with a mixture of drum, string instruments, guitar, piano and tambourine and picks up the tempo. There is also a great harmony when Paul Waaktaar-Savoy provides the backing vocals. Another good track that we could see released as a single.
We end the album with a role reversal, as Magne Furuholmen takes on lead vocals with Morten backing him and singing the chorus. The Summers of Our Youth is such a simple song and Magne's voice has such a raw sound, which gives this track a rough edge, while Morten's vocals give it that smoothness. A good (and slightly different) number to end the album with. All in all, this is a good album with a great mixture of rocking tunes and slow ballads, and a-ha have proved yet again how they can reinvent their sound. For those who only know a-ha's 80's hits such as Take On Me and The Sun Always Shines on TV, check this album out - we are sure you will be amazed at how well they have transformed from an 80's pop band to serious musicians. 8/10
Geraldine Thacker and Karen Johnson (May 2006)